Yuriy Bekker, Conductor
Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus (Dr. Robert Taylor, Director)
College of Charleston Concert Choir
About the Show
The CSO’s own Yuriy Bekker conducts this performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem. Special guest vocalists and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus and the College of Charleston Concert Choir will join forces to present a powerful and moving Requiem unlike any other.
Giuseppe Verdi completed his Requiem Mass as a tribute to his friend Alessandro Manzoni – a beloved Italian writer – and you’ll often hear his version called, “Manzoni” Requiem. It is a powerful statement to the esteem that Verdi, and indeed all of Italy, felt for Manzoni. Earlier in life, Verdi had experienced the tragic losses of two children and his first wife; he was no stranger to grief and mourning.
Prior to the 18th century, before it became popularized for secular concert performance, a Requiem, the Catholic mass for the dead, was a holy ritual accompanied by music. Over time, as the music became more complex, it transitioned to performances beyond the church and became a larger work for orchestra, chorus, and soloists. Various Requiem settings were composed by Mozart, Berlioz, Bruckner, Dvořák, and Verdi, among many others. Each composer put their own mark on their version, to be sure. Verdi’s Requiem stands out among the others for several reasons.
Verdi’s Requiem is filled with the drama you might expect from someone often referenced as the greatest Italian opera composer. Heart-pounding and heart-wrenching, elaborate, startling, and thrilling…all describe Verdi’s Requiem. It’s also appropriately somber and mournful at times, typical for any funeral mass, but it’s not all death and doom.
As an operatic genius, Verdi’s musical and vocal elements merge flawlessly for his Requiem resulting in masterful skill and taking the audience on an emotional rollercoaster through darkness and light. The second movement, the tumultuous and familiar Dies irae (Day of Wrath), is powerful and expressive, filled with pleas; a tender “Amen” which closes the epic movement is a pleasant respite. Verdi gave the heavy lifting to the vocal soloists, the double chorus, and the orchestra in equal measure for his Requiem and, as a result, it becomes the most moving of masterpieces. In fact, of Verdi’s Requiem, Johannes Brahms said, “Only a genius could have written such a work.”
MORE ON THE MUSIC:
- Verdi’s Requiem premiered on the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death (May 22, 1874) with the composer conducting.
- Bekker, who has been a mainstay In Charleston for more than 15 years fills several roles for the CSO as Concertmaster, Principal Pops Conductor, and Artistic Director.
- South Florida Classical Review wrote of a concert conducted by Bekker that the “orchestra stunningly exceeded even the most optimistic expectations…[the] performance was at times thrilling and at others beautiful and deeply touching.”
- As an affiliate of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the CSO Chorus has provided the choral component for choral masterworks concerts for the City of Charleston for more than 30 years.
- The College of Charleston Concert Choir’s membership is comprised of both music majors and non-majors, representing a wide representation of the College of Charleston’s student population.